THE PURE MOOD PULL LIST – 2013/05/22 – GEOFF JOHNS BIDS FAREWELL TO HAL, THE AVENGERS BABYSIT AND PULP AS ART

It’s Thursday night, and we’ve got some quick drive-by comic book thoughts for you. That’s right it’s the Pure Mood Pull List!

First, a little house cleaning. From now on, I’ll be doing quick, bullet point style reviews here. I no longer have the time to indulge myself (and torture you) by writing three thousand words about comics every Thursday. The good news is, I’ll be able to talk about more comics, even if I can’t get quite as in depth with them. Either way, let me know what you think.  As always, if you’re looking for the very best in Marvel reviews, head on over to http://www.marveldisassembled.com. I’m over there talking about X-MEN LEGACY #11. So check it out! As always, HUGE SPOILERS for all titles below.

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01Story by Scott Lobdell /Art by Aaron Kuder / Colors by Blond / Letters byRob Leigh / Cover by Aaron Kuder,  Wil Quintana / PublisherDC Comics / Cover Price:$2.99

You know what? This was a surprisingly fun Scott Lobdell comic. Lobdell does a great job with Orion’s nu52 characterization as developed by Brian Azzarello in WONDER WOMAN, a rowdy and flirtatious cowboy brawler. A character like that meeting up with the brasher and more impetuous Superman of the New 52 was a lot of fun. Some fans have made a pretty big deal out of Superman’s sophomoric utterance of ‘jerk’ after Orion takes him down, but it works for me. Not only because I think the nu52 characters should be as different as previous incarnations as possible (just on general principle that, if you’re going to start a new universe, you should, y’know, start a new universe) but that this is a Superman still figuring himself out. I like the idea that, in a more contemporary setting, Superman doesn’t begin his career as the good-natured but naïve Superboy of the ’50’s, but as an overtly aggressive twenty something. Lobdell gets some pretty fun one-liners in, and even if his script doesn’t carry a lot of depth, it’s fun. I think Kuder may be doing a lot of the heavy lifting for making this comic great – it’s pretty well a giant fight scene, and Kuder does some terrific panel lay out and fight choreography. His character work is pretty great, too. The ending hinges on Superman and Wonder Woman’s relationship, which I find pretty dead on the table, but beyond that, it’s a surprisingly good comic.

09Story by Brian Michael Bendis / Art by Frazer Irving / Cover by Frazer Irving / Publisher Marvel Comics / Cover Price:$3.99

This is an X-men comic with Magick as the ruler of Limbo fighting against Dormammu and Dazzler becoming an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., which makes it the greatest X-men comic ever. Beyond simple fanboy glee, this issue may abuse page real estate more than any Bendis comic in recent memory, and I’m counting the first issue of AGE OF ULTRON. There are an inordinate amount of double page spreads in this book, and even though Frazer Irving is a comics God, and one of my favourite contemporary comics artists, it turns a twenty page comic into a five and half. Bendis’ notable ticks are ever present (I’m still hoping for the day where we can get through an issue without ‘is this a thing?’ popping up) but it’s a solid issue. The story’s great, I love where these characters are being taken, but the pacing needs to be shaped up, and I wish the characterizations were stronger. Honestly, it’s worth it all for Irving, though.

02Story by Art Baltazar,  Franco / Art by Ig Guara,  J.P. Mayer / Cover by Amanda Conner,  Cliff Chiang / Publisher DC Comics / Cover Price: $2.99

I’m a big fan of the original Green Team, but I’m as baffled as anybody that DC dug the property out of the grave. That being said, I’m happy to see that the Aw Yeah team does a great job. TINY TITANS and SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES are two of my favourite DC comics of the past decade, and I was excited to see what they would do with something that takes place, more or less, in the ‘real’ DC universe. Anyhow, I always love the idea that the most real superhero somebody can have is unlimited resources, and as much as DC explores that with characters like Batman or Green Arrow, taking the concept to immature teenagers with no sense of responsibility is a fun idea. That being said, this issue is little more than a taste. The characters are introduced, and they bear a large similarity to the originals, with the exception of Mohammed, the protagonist. Things are a little overwritten and exposition heavy in the opening pages, but the character introductions are handled pretty seamlessly.

08Story by Matt Fraction / Art by Mark Bagley,  Mark Farmer,  Joe Rubinstein / Colors by Paul Mounts / Letters by VC – Clayton Cowles / Cover by Mark Bagley,  Mark Farmer,  Paul Mounts / Publisher Marvel Comics / Cover Price:$2.99

I think FF is a pretty great book, but honestly, Fraction’s run on the World’s Greatest Comics Magazine may go down as one of the most underwhelming. The focus shifts to Ben Grimm in this issue, and Fraction tries to focus on his Jewish upper lower class/lower middle class roots. It gets a little heavy handed, and it feels like the story is grasping for more weight in regards to Grimm’s history with Yancy Street than it’s able to achieve. Bagley’s art looks great, but beyond that, this series is continually underwhelming.

06Story by Frank J. Barbiere / Art by Chris Mooneyham / Cover by Chris Mooneyham / Publisher Image Comics / Cover Price:$2.99

Without a doubt, this is my pick of the week. From the first issue, I thought FIVE GHOSTS was a great high concept, with an interesting lead character and wonderful artwork. With this issue though, it became something more. The pulp feel is revealed to be little more than a backdrop for a complicated story about stories, the way the narratives we respond to shape themselves into the internal and personal ones we’re carrying within ourselves. A story about a broken man filled with longing, who discovers he has the powers to externalize the myths that have spoken to so many people. As a guy obsessed with superheroes, this speaks to me in volumes. FIVE GHOSTS left me surprised, moved and hungry for more.

04Story by Stephen Mooney / Art by Stephen Mooney / Cover by Stephen Mooney / Publisher IDW / Cover Price:$3.99

This comic is unabashedly what it is, and that’s pretty well all you can say about it. If FIVE GHOSTS uses a pulp sensibility to tell an interesting story about literary legacy and the interplay between our lives and fiction, HALF PAST DANGER is pulp in pure, and if that’s your thing, you’ll love it. It has beautiful women, blood thirsty savages, giant dinosaurs, mysterious spies, femme fatales, and a war. Mooney packs it all in, and he clearly respects his source material. It’s a relatively fun and breezy piece of entertainment, but easily skippable and pretty forgettable.

10Story byDan Slott / Art by Ryan Stegman / Cover by Marcos Martin / Publisher Marvel Comics / Cover Price: $3.99

Ghost Peter is finally gone, and the series is immediately stronger for it. This issue dedicates itself to exploring Octavius’ world, specifically now that he doesn’t have Parker’s memories to rely on when people began to question his strange behaviour. His relationship with this fellow student continues to develop, there’s a lot of fun in a dinner table scene with Otto, Aunt May and the Jameson’s, and of course, explosive action. SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN is a ton of fun, and I think it will only get better now that we get to explore Otto’s world in a more singular way.

05Story by Joe Casey / Art by David Messina / Cover by David Messina / Publisher Image Comics / Cover Price:$2.99

THE BOUNCE had some very surprising and weird moments, but on the whole, I would say it’s underwhelming. The story of Jasper Jenkins is pretty bland, and his characterization is kind of shallow. Casey’s interviews for this series had me very excited – I’m a huge Spider-man fan, but the easy joke is to point out the incredulity of an ‘everyman superhero’ being a brilliant engineer freelance photographer with a supermodel girlfriend – and I was excited to see the real flailing twenty somethings acting out as superheroes. It’s not that Casey lacks sympathy for Jenkins, or that he has too much, he just doesn’t shape him as anything that feels real. Jenkins is a shadow of a character, more than an actual person. When the comic racks up is the introduction of the villains, who are all very creepy and original, and carry those distinct Casey touches, including a mysterious lizard eating crime boss. I really enjoy Messina’s artwork, specifically the more psychedelic sequences. THE BOUNCE will hopefully grow into something more interesting, but this first issue left me cold.

03Story by Chris Burnham / Art by Jorge Lucas / Colors by Ian Hannin / Letters by Dezi Sienty / Cover by Chris Burnham,  Nathan Fairbairn / Publisher DC Comics / Cover Price:$2.99

I had no idea that BATMAN INC was scheduled for a fill-in issue, so this was a real surprise. It was also the worst comic I’ve read in a while. I love Burnham’s artwork, but if you’ve ever listened to him in a podcast, you know he has a college fratboy sense of humour. And that’s fine, and I’m the opposite of funny and am not trying to judge anybody’s sense of humour. But it was very hard for me to read a comic with such juvenile humour, complete with snickering sexist puns and one-liners. I really like the characters in this comic, and it was fun to see some of the concepts from Morrison’s earlier INC volume, such as Internet 3.0. Lucas’ artwork clearly homages Burnham’s artwork, and Burnham’s love for magna is very present. But there’s no depth to this comic, the characters are shallow, and a lot of the elements of the story and dialogue are just embarrassing. I never thought I’d say this about BATMAN INC, but this is a comic worth avoiding.

S07tory by Geoff Johns / Art by Doug Mahnke,  Christian Alamy,  Keith Champagne,  Marc Deering ,  Mark Irwin ,  Wade Von Grawbadger ,  Tom Nguyen ,  Patrick Gleason ,  Cully Hamner ,  Aaron Kuder ,  Jerry Ordway ,  Ivan Reis ,  Oclair Albert ,  Joe Prado ,  Ethan Van Sciver / Colors byAlex Sinclair,  Tony Avina / Letters by Dave Sharpe / Cover byDoug Mahnke,  Alex Sinclair / Publisher DC Comics / Cover Price:$7.99

I really enjoyed this comic. It’s interesting, because when I think GREEN LANTERN, I think Broome or O’Neil or Ron Marz, but the unavoidable fact is that I’m twenty one, and Geoff Johns’ GL will always be my GL. He created almost every element of the mythology that I think of when I think of the franchise, and even if, as a Kyle fan, I’m occasionally filled with resentment for Hal’s resurrection, I’ve always been a big fan of Johns’ run. It was pretty moving to see it all come to a close, specifically in a touching moment when Hal must come face to face with his ultimate weakness – a young boy waiting for his father. There’s also plenty of Johns trademark wide screen excitement, including Sinestro merging with Parallax, or Jordan as a Black Lantern commanding Nekron against the First Lantern. There’s a touching epilogue in which we see all of the Earth’s Lanterns far in the future, including a bar-dwelling and bearded Guy Gardner, a messianic Kyle Rainer, and a socially conscious Jon Stewart, now working as a senator. Of course, this is really a love letter to Johns darling Hal Jordan, and he pulls it off. An entire host of artists fills in the 50 odd pages, with the rest of the book dedicated to memories from John’s creative partners, family members and even some DC higher ups. Probably not worth the steep cover price, but still a great send off to an almost decade long run.

12Story by Jonathan Hickman,  Nick Spencer / Art by Mike Deodato / Cover by Dustin Weaver,  Daniel Acuña / Publisher Marvel Comics / Cover Price $3.99

This was a very strong issue of what, as I’ve said before, is probably going to be my favourite AVENGERS runs. Hickman and Spencer explore the terrifying concept of bringing life into the universe, from a wide variety of perspectives. Heroes like Thor and Hyperion, gods among men who have seen worlds destroyed and brought to life, struggle with how to guide a burdening young life through such a painful world. Hawkeye and Spider-woman seem to represent the narrcisstic folly of being a young adult, a twenty or thirty something suffering from arrested development, unable to look past their own needs and desires and into that of others. Otto as Spider-man is the commanding father that only wants his children to be what he never was, while Tony acts more like the fun uncle. It reminded me a lot of Hickman’s run on FANTASTIC FOUR/FF, with the themes of family and the strong sense that the writer had a real fear of how to exactly we’re supposed to guide someone though a world we don’t even understand. The long game continues to be played, with the arrival of the High Evolutionary continuing another huge piece to this increasingly complex puzzle. Deodato’s artwork has never looked better, and Spencer does a wonderful job as co-writer. Another amazing entry from the AVENGERS.

11Story by Mike Mignola,  John Arcudi / Art by Kevin Nowlan / Colors by Kevin Nowlan / Cover by Kevin Nowlan / Publisher Dark Horse Comics / Cover Price:$3.50

I’m always ecstatic to see a new LOBSTER JOHNSON comic, but doubly so to see anything done by Kevin Nowlan. This is as wonderful as you’d expect to be. Perfectly executed with brilliant artwork, complex and fascinating characterizations, a beautiful sense of mood and wonderful pacing, and a creepy and action-packed storyline. In a word, sublime.

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Well, that’s it for this week! If you’d like to talk about the Defenders in the Age of Ultron, a triumphant farewell to FIRESTORM, or any of the other delicious comics I didn’t have time to talk about, leave a comment below!

5 responses to “THE PURE MOOD PULL LIST – 2013/05/22 – GEOFF JOHNS BIDS FAREWELL TO HAL, THE AVENGERS BABYSIT AND PULP AS ART

  1. UXM was great. Frazer did an awesome job on art. It was dark and creepy, and looked the way Hell should. Bendis’s writing was good, too. I like that Bendis will keep SHIELD as a presence in the book.

    Fantastic Four was really good. I like how he’s tied the AU issue into the main story. I still hate the Thing’s text.

    Superior Spider-Man was really good. I like his romance with Anna. It’s cute.

    Avengers was OK. Some fun bits. Hyperion’s totally lacking in personality, though. I’m still finding this run underwhelming. While I’ve found Fraction’s run on Fantastic Four, so far, to be excellent.

  2. In the battle between Green Team and the Movement…I declare the Teen Trillionaires the winner in my opinion. They didn’t blow me away but I’ll give the Green another shot next month as it might have the potential to be something…

    • I haven’t read THE MOVEMENT yet, but I’m really looking forward to it. I’m a big fan of Simone’s SECRET SIX, and I’m excited to see her move into that sort of territory again. I had a blast with THE GREEN TEAM – I think it’ll be a fun eight issues (but here’s hoping for more!)

  3. Some interesting takes.

    I am enjoying The Bounce more than Sex at the moment. I’m glad someone else shares my opinion of Fantastic Four- though I’m still a little bit into FF oddly. Haven’t read Five Ghosts #3, but the previous issue really turned me around. And I feel like I’m missing out not following Uncanny X-Men; sounds like my kind of book.

    Avengers & New Avengers, however, is quickly very losing its appeal to me. There’s the slow burn and then there is Hickman’s Avengers. I dunno. I’m 1 or 2 issues away from giving up completely, esp the latest New Avengers, ugh.

    I’ve decided to bank the rest of the AoU books from this point and consume them in one big binge at the end.

    • I’m kind of all over the place with my feelings toward FF. I love that, just as Hickman reminded people that as long as we’re fascinated by scientific progression we’ll never tire of the FANTASTIC FOUR mythos, I feel like Fraction is focusing on the more humanistic elements of progression that has always stood centre of the FANTASTIC FOUR. I mean, Lee/Kirby may have never touched transgender values, and the treatment of Sue was pretty gross, but when you look at the Black Panther or the Inhumans, there’s a lot of overarching themes of acceptance. That being said, Fraction is going OVERBOARD with his trademark whimsy. Some of that stuff is just cheap to me. Overall, though, FF is pretty great!
      This arc of UXM has been fantastic. I can’t quite justify the four dollar price tag when the book moves at such a snail’s pace, but I’d say it’s worth a read.
      I LOVE Hickman’s AVENGERS – I think it’s the best run in AVENGERS history. The thing is, it was an interesting writer for Marvel to place on those books. I would have thought that after the success of Whedon’s AVENGERS film, Marvel would want somebody who could replicate that character driven and snappy dialogue focused sort of storytelling. But I love how Hickman is handling AVENGERS as an operatic, mythical story. I’ll admit, it can feel like a shameless Morrison riff at times, but I’m really enjoying it.

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